The world’s best new year traditions in London


Every country has its own traditions for New Year, and those spending the occasion in London could easily come across the British ones, such as standing in a circle singing the classic Scots song Auld Lang Syne. However, it is not just British traditions that are celebrated in London, with this most cosmopolitan of cities featuring a wide array of nationalities and ethnicities celebrating the occasion.

Spain is one country with a distinctive tradition. At midnight, people will swiftly consume 12 grapes and wash them down with champagne. This is meant to bring good luck for the year ahead. Perhaps the best chance to celebrate this way – unless you have a Spanish friend in London – is to go to a top spanish restaurant, such as Barrafina – which has outlets on Drury Lane, Adelaide Street and Frith Street, or Copita in Covent Garden.

An Italian restaurant may be the best place to try their tradition involving lentils. These are eaten on New Year’s Day for good luck. If that sounds a little bland, try it Tuscan style, with the pulses embedded in Cotechino, a type of pork sausage, or even do as they would in Bologna and Modena and eat the same mixture stuffed in a pig’s foot! With so many restaurants serving food from around the world, there are many more tasty treats you may try.

Try Japanese Soba noodle soup, German sauerkraut, Polish pickled herring or cuban roast suckling pig. Some dishes come with incentives. A Greek vasilopita cake contains a coin, inserted for good luck like the sixpence in a British Christmas pudding, with good luck for whoever gets that slice.

Similarly, in Finland and Sweden a lucky almond is hidden in a rice pudding. It is probably as well to stick mainly to food-related traditions if you are going cosmopolitan for the New Year, although there is nothing wrong with the Turkish tradition of wearing red underwear. However, walking round the block with an empty suitcase is an Ecuadorian custom only for those who want to travel more – something you are already doing – while the South african tradition of hurling furniture out of the window is certainly best avoided – especially when you are staying on the upper floors.

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